Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Making your RV grocery budget stretch

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Aside from fuel, one of the biggest expenses RVers cope with is that of groceries. Tight budget? Here are some food dollar-stretching tips:

Don’t go grocery shopping without a list, as you’re more likely to buy things you don’t need. We “word processed” a list of all our frequently purchased grocery and non-grocery items. Broken down in basic categories, our list is laid out roughly as to where we’ll find things located in the store. For example, milk, cheese and other dairy items are in one clump on our list. We keep copies of the list hanging on a hook inside a galley cabinet. When something is needed, we put a check mark next to the item on the list.

If you find yourselves in a little “burg,” with less store competition, buy only essentials needed to get by in that area. Later, in the big city, take your list and do major shopping.

“Coupon” where you can. Not always easy on the road, but we’ve found that the big chains will often email their weekly ad specials. Once a week we get a big ad from Safeway and we print manufacturer coupons from their site. Most manufacturer — as opposed to “store brand” — coupons can be used in any store that takes coupons, including Walmart.

Not everything sold in “club” stores like Costco or Sam’s Club are cheaper than at the regular retailer. While milk tends to be less expensive at a club store, other items may actually cost more when compared on price-per-unit basis. Produce at the club stores is usually way out of line in terms of price, and not necessarily of any better quality than at a more upscale supermarket.

When shopping, try to stay in a dollar limit. After our major once-a-month blast, we take the remaining grocery money and divide it out according to the remaining number of weeks until “payday.” A hundred dollars left means $25 a week for the rest of the month.

So how do you avoid “overspending” when trekking through the store? Set your spending limit before you step in the door. Don’t worry about trying to keep track of how much you’ve put in your cart to the cent — especially if you “do it in your head.” As you stick an item in the basket, round the dollar amount up or down. For example, if the loaf of bread is $4.15, then mentally add $4 to your tally. If the hamburger is $6.67, then mentally add $7. We’ve found it better to use a calculator, but sometimes you can forget to punch in a number.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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CYoung (@guest_93776)
3 years ago

I use the free app Color Note. Set up a checklist, create categories, ex. condiments, health/beauty, dairy, produce, etc. You can then sort alphabetically, make sure the items you need this trip are unchecked, and sort by status. As you shop, check off each item and resort by status. This really keeps us on track and makes sure we don’t forget something.

Warren G (@guest_93705)
3 years ago

Safeway and Kroger owned chains have coupons on their website that you can download to your card, eliminates the need to clip.

Mike (@guest_93699)
3 years ago

And…never go shopping when you are hungry , it causes you to buy more of what you don’t need!!!

Robbie (@guest_93692)
3 years ago

Our Groceries is a great “list” app.

Gloria Sluder (@guest_93671)
3 years ago

We watch for buy one get one. Meals work around items on sale.

Larry H Lee (@guest_93660)
3 years ago

Many chain grocery stores accept other stores’ coupons. Look for a posted sign to that effect near the store entrance.

Arlene (@guest_93659)
3 years ago

I’ve found electronic coupons to be a big saver. I use the app Ibotta. You can view “coupons” at all the big chains and select what you want. After shopping you just scan your receipt into the app. Your $ accumulates until you cash out for gift cards or cash transfer. Also, you can link loyalty cards for several stores so you don’t even have to scan the receipt.

Diane Mc (@guest_93710)
3 years ago
Reply to  Arlene

Thank you! Always love the things I learn about here from the other readers. I’ll definitely check this out.

Linda (@guest_93757)
3 years ago
Reply to  Arlene

Fetch is also a good one.

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